At TechSPARK I spend a lot of time speaking to people from across Bristol’s tech cluster. I hear lots of great news stories from people creating companies or products which solve problems and, often, make the world a better place.
However, whether speaking to startups, scaleups or global corporates – they all have an issue in common: how to access the best talent when they need it. Being able to hire the very best people has become more and more difficult as growth has accelerated. Tech employment is currently at 98.4% (Stack Overflow) and the flow from education is barely able to keep up.
If we want our sector to continue to thrive, we need to look at our approach to talent and really access all the city has to offer. Here are a few things we need to consider:
MATTER WHERE IT COMES FROM AND SHOW THAT THE CITY IS OPEN TO ALL.- BEN SHORROCK – MANAGING DIRECTOR, TechSPARK
1. WHAT DO WE LOOK LIKE?
Bristol is an incredibly diverse city, with over 90 languages spoken in its schools, but this isn’t reflected in the tech cluster. Over 80% of the people working in tech are men and the vast majority of these are white. To build the best products we need to access talent from a range of backgrounds and perspectives. Organisations like Women’s Tech Hub, Girl Geeks, Black Girl Con, Black South West Network & Rife Mag all do exciting work, but more support is needed from companies to make sure we develop talent wherever it comes from.
2. WHERE DO WE COME FROM?
We want to access the best talent no matter where it comes from and show that the city is open to all. Whether this is about attracting new talent through programmes like our own- Bristol Calling, encouraging the best international students to stay here or showing that people from anywhere are welcome, we all have a part to play in highlighting Bristol as a truly global city.
3. WHAT DO WE NEED FROM TALENT?
With new people come new ideas of what talent is and how that is qualified. The traditional model of recruiting computer science graduates no longer fulfils demand. As businesses, we need to be much clearer about what skills and abilities we’re looking for in our teams and whether that requires a graduate. Where there are needs for specific technical learning, we should be looking at new models such as apprenticeships, returner programmes or coding bootcamps. By thinking about what we need and how we get there, we’re much better positioned to fulfil our current talent needs.
4. WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?
Finally, as an entire community, we need to really consider what type of industry we want in 20 years and who we want to work in it. If we want the very best people, we need to show children from primary school age some of the amazing products and businesses that are just down the road. We need to show them that the industry is open regardless of their backgrounds and that we actively want them to come and join us.
I think Bristol is an amazing community but if we want to be truly world-class, we need to be able to attract and develop the very best people and we need to be doing it now.